Policy and Legislation News
New NRC report calls for sustained Landsat program
09 August 2013
Senate appropriators already skeptical of NASA's plan to explore hosted payload and international partnership concepts as an alternative to building another dedicated Landsat spacecraft were handed fresh ammunition with the 8 Aug release of a National Research Council (NRC) report calling for a "systematic and deliberate program" to prevent a disruption in Landsat's 40-year record of moderate-resolution land imagery.
Despite a 1992 law mandating the continuous collection of Landsat-type imagery, "the procurement of the series of Landsat satellites has been ad hoc and has had a chaotic history, characterised by frequent shifting of responsibilities among government agencies and the private sector," the report says.
Landsat-8, a $1 billion spacecraft launched in February with a five-year design life but enough fuel to last 10, was finally put under contract in 2007 after NASA spent several years pursuing commercial and interagency partnerships for a successor to the Landsat-7 spacecraft that launched in 1999 but developed a serious instrument glitch a short time later.